Thursday, February 13, 2014


A rather short collaborative novella is in the wild at present, the result of a six month collaboration between Cat Rambo and myself.  Cat recently commented on collaboration in general and our attempt in particular. This was my third attempt at collaboration:  Jeff Kooistra and I attempted a novel when were raw novices at this game and I later did an experimental flash-ish story with Ramona Wheeler.  Those early attempt taught me dialogue from Jeff and brevity from Ramona.

Cat and I decided on doing HAUNTED on a whim at last year's Nebula award ceremony. The ground rules were that we would use Scrivener in a shared DropBox folder and take turns working on successive drafts.   We'd periodically archive each draft that encompassed a complete story as a Word file, but continue to work on the draft within Scrivener.

At first the two of us wrote scenes without consulting about where the story was going, letting our words speak of the concepts and directions.   I tend to write fast when the muse sits on my shoulders and found it extremely frustrating to have to wait (and wait, and wait, and wait) for Cat to finish so I could get my hands back on the controls.   I have to admit that I cheated on her by sometime writing scenes while I waited and then sneaking them into my next draft.  Neither of us made this collaboration our main focus and continued with other projects as we worked so delays were inevitable.

Cat contemplating the arrangement
 By using Scrivener we were allowed to move scenes about and independently insert new text or reference material.  We met at WorldCon after we archived version 1.0 and physically moved the printed scene cards about the table top to get our story's structure "right."  This was the first time we could discuss whether the story should unfold to the reader sequentially or in time-shifted vignettes.

With two active imaginations at work it was inevitable that our original short story idea would morph into a virtually unsaleable thirty thousand word novella.  Eventually common sense prevailed and we whittled this overwritten monster down to less than 20K words.

On balance I thought the effort was well worth it.  I learned a lot about Cat's style (and more about my control issues than I cared to know.)  I hope my writing has improved as a result.

And gaining a new friendship ain't bad either.


1 comment:

  1. It was a lot of fun to work on, and I know the slowness was frustrating. :) Thanks for putting up with that. I learned a lot about Bud's process and it's shaped my own in that I'm more likely to move a longer story into Scrivener in order to move around scenes more easily.


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